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Outstanding adoptive families honored at Governor’s Mansion

posted Nov 7, 2015, 2:28 PM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS   [ updated Nov 9, 2015, 2:55 PM ]
(Denver, Nov. 7, 2015) – Five families from across the state were honored by the Colorado Department of Human Services for their commitment to provide permanent homes to children during an Adoption Month Event Luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion on Saturday.

Honorees were presented plaques in recognition of their exceptional dedication to foster care and adoption by Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services. 

Videos showcasing the families’ dedication were shown during the ceremony in front of about 100 guests, comprised of county workers, elected officials and family members.

The honored guests, in addition to their official recognition, were given an unguided tour of the first floor of the governor’s residence, participated in numerous fun activities – including face painting, pop-a-shot and a moon bounce house, and were entertained by Denver Broncos mascot Miles.

 “All of you, parents and children alike, are shining examples of the power of love and family,” Bicha said in addressing the honorees. 

“The families that you have created are inspiring and enriching. Your stories are powerful, and can be an influential tool to encourage more people to create a family of their own.”

The adoptive parents recognized included:
  • The Barnetts (Colorado Springs): Jon and Sharon have 10 children, including two biological sons, an adopted niece, and two sets of sibling groups (seven children), all adopted from the foster care system.
  • The Smollecks (Granby): Chris and Jessica have adopted two children from the foster care system.
  • The Carlsons (Loveland): Ronda and Joe adopted five of their eight children from the foster care system, and since first becoming foster parents 26 years ago, have provided foster care to more than 52 children.
  • Phyllis Hunt (Longmont): Phyllis moved from Montana to Colorado soon after Hayley’s birth, became Hayley’s kinship provider when Hayley’s parents were unable to care for her, then, years later, became Hayley’s adoptive grandmother.
  • The Fernandez-Martinez family (Henderson): Rebecca and Rafael adopted a sibling group of four children from the foster care system and currently are foster parents to a sibling group of three.
More than 640 Colorado children will be adopted from foster care by the end of National Adoption Month, including an expected 107 in November.

“Yet, there are 288 kids in the state who are waiting to become part of a family,” Bicha noted. “Colorado needs more foster and adoptive families, particularly for older teenagers and siblings. The process to get involved is easy, inexpensive, inclusive, and, as we’ve seen unequivocally today, changes lives.”

Those considering investigating adoption are encouraged to visit for information. A photo exhibit and short synopses on Colorado children awaiting homes can be found at

The adoption process can run about six months. The minimum age requirement is 21, with no upper age limit. Affiliated fees are nominal – around $500 ¬– and are usually reimbursable.

Nicole Grabowski - CDHS,
Nov 9, 2015, 2:55 PM